Almost two years have passed since the start of the pandemic, and although COVID-19 has had an immense effect on the economy and our well-being, we have gained traction in the fight.
We have had to adapt to new rules and regulations set by governments, changing the way we live, every day of every week.
Basic freedoms are being restored in several countries since the introduction of vaccines and safeguards, and it is getting increasingly safer to say that a long and bumpy corner, is beginning to be turned.
However, the economic downfall caused by the virus is another fight in itself. The real impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses around the world has become increasingly apparent, and the impact on supply chain industry has been severe.
Whether it be the movement of containers from ports, air freight, or even the transport of goods through road and rail, there has been a drastic decline in services, mainly due to border closures and production delays. There have even been warnings of a collapse of global supply chains as a result.
However, as the world slowly starts to get back to normality again, progress has been seen across the logistics industry – many businesses have been able to respond rapidly and set up crisis-management mechanisms, in the form of a nerve centre. The general focus is short term, but how do supply-chain leaders also prepare for the medium and long term, and build the resilience that will see them through 2022 and beyond?
There is no doubt that the industry has gone through some profound changes, mastering this change, and using the right strategies, tools and trends going forward from the impact of COVID-19, is key to healthy growth for businesses, and the industry as a whole.
These are the key trends that will shape the logistics industry going forward:
A greener approach
Australia has a target to reduce national emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030. This is an overall target which also applies to the transport sector.
In addition to the use of alternative fuels, better-utilised trucks, the avoidance of empty runs, shorter standing and waiting times for loading and unloading can help reduce the consumption of finite, fossil raw materials and the amount of CO2 emissions around freight services. The challenges that need to be addressed in this context are, transparency, for example with regards to emissions or employee concerns along the value chain, dovetailing of sustainability and corporate strategy, insufficiently ambitious targets without a long-term time horizon, and patchy implementation of corresponding initiatives.
Big Data as a control tool
Analytics, data and machine learning should be intertwined and complement each other. The use of big data is a pillar of logistics 4.0, and this fusion should enable forecasts to be made about customer needs, and preferences, as well as market trends. For example, blockchain, is increasingly used for both full visibility and accountability for ethical and sustainable sourcing. Additionally, the use of big data in the industry will reduce the risk of shortages in warehouses through better allocation of resources, while improving overall customer service in the long term.
Management of international supply chains
Global trade can give companies a competitive advantage when it comes to sourcing and selling, however, non-interconnected systems and manual processes have many pitfalls and risks. Nobody wants to deal with delays, lost sales or unsatisfied customers. Utilising management platforms like this Augmented Global Trade Platform will expand the information and expertise of the user, while offering a simple workflow and a transparent dashboard to strengthen the customs and compliance management of companies in global trade via augmented intelligence.
Preparing for a rise in demand
Heading into 2022, as the economy reopens in Australia, it’s vital that businesses are prepared for pent-up consumer demand from the limited economic activity of the last year.
The question to ask is – are the supply chains ready for the ongoing rush? Beyond focusing on stock levels and making sure there’s enough of what customers want on the shelves, they need to provide a more personalised and seamless experience across multiple channels, and meet evolving customer expectations.
In addition, businesses should also re-examine their processes and systems, and analyse data across the entire supply chain to achieve better visibility and transparency within the system.
Setting a course for growth
A combination of these strategies, technologies and solutions will set a central course for growth and process efficiency into the future, from manufacturer, to retailer, to end customer.
Implementing these tools and trends is crucial for the growth of the industry going forward – there is a lot of catching up to do. But on the flip side, It’s only up from here.
Paul Soong is Regional Director ANZ, BluJay Solutions, now part of E2open